Orioles making strides on defense

Orioles making strides on defense

Orioles making strides on defense
DETROIT -- If there was one thing that manager Buck Showalter wanted to improve the most going into the second half of the season, it was his club's defense.

While the Orioles' 93 errors are still tops in the Majors, they are making strides on the field -- particularly at the corner-infield spots, with the play of Mark Reynolds and rookie Manny Machado.

The Orioles committed 75 errors in 85 first-half games, posting a .977 fielding percentage, and have 18 in 35 second-half games for a fielding percentage of .987. While statistics aren't everything, the club has been more adept at turning double plays -- including three at key moments in Saturday's game.

"It's improved," Showalter said of the defense. "Mark's done a good job at first base, he really has. He's settled in there pretty well. I tell you, if we shore that up at the corners and with Nate [McLouth] and [Adam] Jonesie and Nicky [Markakis] out there, we're going to have a good defensive club out there."

Jones, Markakis and McLouth are all former Gold Glove winners, as is catcher Matt Wieters, who is consistently praised by the O's pitching staff for the work he does behind the plate. Machado's arrival has helped re-energize the Orioles, making the transition from shortstop to third base look almost easy, while Reynolds has vastly improved his play at first base.

"The guys that we have in here now and how our defense has gotten better has helped us do our jobs a little bit easier," closer Jim Johnson said.

Added Jones, "It had to [get better]. We knew that our pitchers were keeping us in games [and] our offense was keeping us in games, but our defense was getting us in trouble."